Senior Sara DeMaster helps pack boxes at the Food Bank of Northern Indiana as part of the college’s annual service day.

Senior Sara DeMaster helps pack boxes at the Food Bank of Northern Indiana as part of the college’s annual service day.

On Oct. 7, Bethel College students, faculty and staff members took a break from classes and regular work to give back to the local community. It was all part of the 26-year tradition of Bethel’s campus-wide service day – a day set aside each year to focus on one of the college’s core values: service to others.

Hannah Reinke ’16 spent the morning painting alongside 12 classmates at the Youth Service Bureau of St. Joseph County, a community-based nonprofit organization committed to preserving and strengthening families and protecting children at risk.

“This is the third year I have participated in service day,” Reinke says. “It was great to get out in the community and work as a team to help such an incredible organization.”

Students served at approximately 60 locations in Michiana, donating more than 3,100 hours of community service. Work ranged from physical labor – like yard work, construction and painting – to personal interaction with the elderly and elementary students.

Several of the organizations served included the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, The Center for the Homeless, Ronald McDonald House Charities, St. Joseph County Parks, LeSEA Global Feed the Hungry, Habitat for Humanity, Pet Refuge, YMCA of Michiana, CASIE Center and many more.

A group of students even traveled to Niles, Mich. to work at Michiana Christian Service Camp, where they helped with a variety of tasks, including closing the camp’s pool – something the organization had put off due to lack of off-season staff.

“It was such a tremendous help, and a great testament to the character of the college,” says camp director Troy Cleland, who has worked with Bethel students on service day for the past four years.

Janelle Crotser ’07, service learning coordinator for Bethel, says that service day is an important aspect of campus life as it helps equip students for a life of impact in the world.

“It is really important for us to set aside time one day a year where the main focus is to serve the community around us,” she says.

Bethel has received national recognition for community outreach, including a #2 ranking for community service participation by Washington Monthly and inclusion on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. In addition to the annual service day, students volunteer throughout the year in a variety of ways, contributing countless hours at a local, national and international level.